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Nokia 3.1 Review - Needs improvement?

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Nokia launched in the Philippines its latest entry-level smartphones last August, one of which is the Nokia 3.1. 
Nokia 3.1 Review - Needs improvement?
Nokia 3.1

In case you missed it, we have written an article about what makes the Nokia 3.1 along with the Nokia 2.1 special among entry-level smartphones. But if you want to know more about this latest budget phone, then here's our full review!

Nokia 3.1 Specs

Display: 5.2-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass protected IPS screen with 1440 x 720 resolution at 310 ppi
CPU: 1.5GHz 64-bit MediaTek MT6750N octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-T860 MP2 GPU
RAM: 2GB/3GB
ROM: 16GB/32GB expandable up to 256GB via microSD card
Back Camera: 13MP f/2.0 w/ AF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 8MP f/2.0 w/ 84.6-degree wide-angle lens
Battery: 2,990mAh non-removable battery
OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, FM Radio, OTG, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, proximity, orientation, gyroscope, magnetic, sound
Others: Colors: white/iron, black/copper, black/chrome
Dimensions: 146.3 x 68.7 x 8.7 mm
Weight: 138 g
Price: PHP 9,990 (PHP 8,990 sale price)

Unboxing/Accessories

What's inside?
What's inside?

The Nokia 3.1 has the usual inclusions: the unit itself, micro USB cable, wall charger, earphones, and some paper documents.

Build Quality/Design

Matte-finished plastic back
Matte-finished plastic back

This entry-level smartphone doesn't look like it at all. It looks premium although it's made with plastic, thanks to its matte-finish. We got the black variant with silver lining around it and a "NOKIA" branding at the back and Android One label under it.
Top
Top
Bottom
Bottom
Left
Left
Right
Right

Design wise, the Nokia 3.1 looks attractive and sturdy. Its overall build has a nice grip and build. The matte-finished plastic can get some scratches so we advise you put on a protective case if you want to keep it scratch-free.

It has thick top and bottom bezels with round and curvy edges. On top, it features the 3.5 mm headphone jack port for earphones, meanwhile on the bottom are the single speaker and micro-USB port for charging.

Thick bezels made 18:9 screen display unappreciated.

On the left side are the microSD card and SIM slots while on the right side are the volume rocker and power button.

We would also just like to note that because of its thick bezels, the purpose of its 18:9 screen cannot be seen anymore. It could have been better if Nokia designed it with slim to no bezels just like the smartphones at its price range nowadays. 

Display Quality

5.2-inch display
5.2-inch display

Nokia 3.1 features a 5.2-inch IPS LCD 18:9 display with Corning Gorilla Glass protection (no mention of version). It has the "just right" bezels size on top and bottom, but nearly none on the sides. 

Although it only has 1440 x 720 resolution at 310 ppi, we are happy to say that it has nice colors, and viewing at all angles. Sunlight legibility is also fine even under sunlight. 

Surprisingly, it has 10 points of multitouch!

Audio Quality

This smartphone has one grille speaker at the bottom. This phone just keep on surprising us because even though it has one speaker only, it is more than enough loud! It should have a noticeable distortion but for this one, you can barely observe it. 

Nice and loud sounds!

The provided earphones make nice casual listening. It should work better with your own HiFi earphones. Do not expect it to drive high-powered headphones properly.

Nokia 3.1 works with Bluetooth headphones as well. 

Meanwhile, Nokia 3.1's microphone quality is okay. It creates hisses sounds for videos, but it's still fine.

Battery Life

Battery Benchmark score!
Battery Benchmark score!

Nokia 3.1 is packed with 2990mAh non-removable battery. On our battery benchmark, it lasted for a total of 9 hours and 18 minutes.

On our real-life usage, it can last a whole days under light to moderate usage. It includes texting, calling, combined Wi-Fi and data usage, Spotify, and a bit of gaming.

You can fill it up to 100 percent from 0 percent under 2 hours and 20 minutes using its provided wall charger and plug.

Camera

13MP rear camera
13MP rear camera

For the rear camera, Nokia 3.1 sports a 13MP f/2.0 with LED flash. It has the common camera features of beautification, HDR, photo, video, and panorama.

BUT, we are surprised that it has a "manual mode" where we found scene-coping operations like macro, and nature (infinity). It also has "bokeh"-like or more of a "tilt shift" like the one we see on the edit section of Instagram that lets you put a blur. It also has different lighting options just like those we see in DSLR cameras: AWB (auto), daylight, cloudy, shade, fluorescent, incandescent, and shade. 

Nokia 3.1's rear camera is one of those under PHP 10K smartphones that can take nice photos. For lowlight, it can take decent ones with evident grains but can be improved with the help of the manual lightings and LED flash.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight
Daylight 1
Close-up
Close-up
Daylight 2
Daylight 2
Underexposed photo, poor dynamic range
Underexposed photo, poor dynamic range 
Indoor
Indoor
Close-up
Close-up
HDR
HDR
Lowlight
Lowlight 1
Uncontrolled flash
Uncontrolled flash

On the other hand, the selfie camera is equipped with an 8MP f/2.0. It also has the same camera features with the rear camera. The same manual mode can be found on the selfie shooter. 
8MP selfie camera
8MP selfie camera

Nokia 3.1 shoots nice selfie under daylight and indoors. As you can see, it shoots wide selfies, this is definitely "one for groufies"! Although it doesn't have screen or LED flash, it can still shoot decent selfies under lowlight.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie 2
Indoor selfie 2
Beautification level 2
Beautification level 2
Lowlight selfie with flash
Lowlight selfie with flash

For videos, the Nokia 3.1 can shoot 1080p at 30 fps on the rear camera. While for the selfie camera, it can record 720p at 30 fps.

Video Samples


Performance

Benchmark scores!
Benchmark scores!

The Nokia 3.1 runs with the MediaTek MediaTek MT6750N octa-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and Mali-T860 MP2 GPU. 

It has two variants of 2GB/3GB RAM and 16GB/32GB internal memory that can be expanded up to 256GB via microSD card. The one loaned with us is the 3GB RAM/32GB ROM variant.


Although we had a smooth browsing experience for over a month that we've used it, we are sad that Nokia chose to use MediaTek MT6750N processor from its more capableSnapdragon 430 processor last year. 
Nokia 3.1 UI
Nokia 3.1 UI

Nokia 3.1 is an Android One smartphone meaning it has a hardware and software technical standard created by Google intended to provide a consistent user experience and improved security through frequent updates and Google Play Protect.

Since it runs on the Android 8.0 Oreo, Nokia 3.1 has the latest icons. There are a few bloatware apps. 

Its thermal management is great. It doesn't get alarming hot although we use it for quite some time.

We wished that Nokia included a fingerprint sensor for added security. Or maybe a face unlock tech?

The rest of the telephony experience works great. It has a strong GSM signal for SIMs, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. It has LED notification, and USB OTG. 

Pros - 18:9 display, Corning Gorilla Glass protectio, nice cameras, wide selfies, Android One smartphone
Cons - No fingerprint sensor, no selfie LED/screen flash, below average thermal condition

Verdict

Nokia 3.1 has its nice points but it definitely needs improvement. It lacks the now common features of the smartphones at under PHP 10K price point. Consumers may get more from under PHP 7K smartphones rather than this one. 

We also wish that Nokia will equip it with fingerprint sensors or even face unlocks for added security.

The 3GB RAM/32GB ROM variant has decent speed and performance. This is my first time using an Android One smartphone and I can say that the experience is fine.

You can get this for PHP 8,990!

Build/Design - 3.25
Display - 3.25
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4
Camera - 3.75
Performance - 3.5
Average - 3.71/5 
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